7 Savvy Tips for the On-Trend Shopper

While it's true in recent years that I've made an effort to focus on my own definitions of style, once in a while I like to sit down and review what's actually going on in the world of fashion. Sometimes that means window shopping or surveying the latest magazine spreads. Other times it's admiring Pantone's carefully selected palettes in their seasonal color reports. Here in the city, it's lately meant plopping my unemployed self down on a Washington Square or Upper East Side bench, drooling into a cheap cup of chai over outfits I can't currently (and may never) afford.

Maybe it's my empty wallet talking, or maybe I'm just a snob at heart, but overall I am of the opinion that too much trend-following is tasteless, wasteful, and a sure sign of an under-exercised imagination. I rarely see the point in renouncing one's own fashion impulses for the next fad item. Does that mean I never fall victim to advertisements and "must have" editorials myself? Of course not; I'm as human as the rest of you. But making a mindful effort to avoid these triggers has certainly made me less inclined to do so. In the past year I have shopped less, wanted less, and been more content with what I already own than ever before.

If you, like me, are striving to limit mindless spending and "stuff" accumulation, it's important to arm yourself with a few tactics before so much as eyeing a copy of Vogue.

Using this fall's current crazes in example, here are some approaches you can use to tune out the trends and tune in to you!

1) Board It Up 
Inspiration and "mood" boards used to seem ridiculous to me, but the more I've worked with them, the more readily I've been able to identify my own style preferences. This season, for example, it's reminded me that mini skirts have no place in my "blue collar bohemian" weekend wardrobe. So whether it's clipping magazine pics, snapping photos of mannequins, noting an outfit you saw on the street, or pinning your favorite blog posts, find a way to reference and define your personal style parameters -- then be sure to work within them.

2) Know Your Body
I've always been a proponent of dressing for your shape, but recently I've started wondering whether this kind of proscribed advice isn't just another symptom of our media's obsession with the male gaze. Rather than determining if you're a pear, hourglass, or what-not, decide for yourself what proportions (hemlines, cuts, and shapes) make you feel most comfortable. If dresses get in the way of the work you need to do, embrace pants. If heels make you want to scream, nix 'em! This self-love has given me liberty to send fall's over-the-knee boots my very best "talk to the hand."

3) Shop Your Closet
Few of us can name every item in our possession at any given moment. Chances are, you have a few of the latest trends lurking in the recesses of your wardrobe right now! Plaid is a trend that seems to resurface every autumn, and if you live in the PNW you're probably already in possession of some serious flannel. Give these items extra attention this season. By the time they're worn out, the trend will be over, and you can usher in something new, guilt-free.

4) Study Your Classics
"Classic" items are typically great pieces to invest in because they're less likely to go out of style before you wear them out. These pieces have been in circulation for centuries: The crisp white blouse. The black trouser. The tailored jacket. You can rest assured they're not going anywhere fast, even if they happen to be on-trend now. A gray suit, for example, is sure to serve you well for many years, making it one of the most lucrative 2015 trends.

5) Play The Memory Game
Trends are recycled and resuscitated all the time. (One visit to your local H&M right now will have you believing you walked into a Brady Brunch special.) This gives you good cause for looking back on your own history and asking yourself, "Have I tried this before?" and if so, "What came of it?" While researching trends for this post, I noticed the return of oversized, glitzy jewelry. Immediately I started thinking about purchasing one of those absurd, brightly-colored cocktail rings for dressing up my evening wear. Then it occurred to me: I just got rid of three similar rings last summer. Not because they were out of style, but because I never wore them! They snagged, they pinched, they made me feel on-display. Learn the difference between liking the way an item feels on you versus liking the way it looks on a model or in a magazine. Make note of what drives you crazy. It will serve as a valuable filter for seasons to come.

6) Eliminate The Stupid
I sometimes wonder whether magazines showcase these trends in an effort to make fools of us all when we follow them. Who, in the love of all that's holy, will be walking around this winter with sleeves too long for their arms? The sad answer is: probably many, after seeing it proscribed in Elle. Learn to ascend the bullshit here. Even fashion experts make bad calls.

7) When You Must, Go For Accessories
Maybe you've employed all the steps above and you still really want that present-on-your-Pinterest, perfect-on-your-body, totally-not-stupid, classic plaid print that's missing from your closet. For years I wanted to dress just like John Bender from The Breakfast Club -- everything from his plaid flannel, to his leather moto gloves, to his thermal undershirt. Almost five years after seeing the film (and many failed outfit-mimicry attempts later) I finally decided to spring for his wayfarer sunglasses. To this day, my Ray-Bans are one of my most cherished possessions. For you, it might be this season's driving gloves or funky tights. Accessories tend to be less expensive and easier to store, so you can be more experimental without sacrificing money or space.

How do you avoid or embrace trends? Share below!

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